I watched it happen, start to finish, with my own two eyes, so I know that it happened.
Looking back on it 36 hours later, I’m not sure how it did.
The Wisconsin Badgers pulled the upset on Saturday afternoon, taking down Villanova 65-62 in a game that was as frustrating as it was exciting.
Let’s start here: Wisconsin had more turnovers, were in more foul trouble, and were way worse from the free throw line. In March, those things matter, but for the Badgers, somehow they didn’t.
What mattered is that Wisconsin was at its best down the stretch.
The Wildcats’ Donte DiVincenzo made a 3-pointer from straightaway with 5:31 remaining that felt like the dagger into the hearts of the Badgers. The Wisconsin veterans disagreed, as Nigel Hayes scored following a Badgers timeout, and then Bronson Koenig knocked down two shots in a row for a 7-0 run to tie the game with 3:28 to play. In fact, Wisconsin went 6-9 down the stretch, following DiVicenzo’s 3-pointer, with two of the misses coming on one possession in which Hayes got both offensive rebounds and then kicked out to Koenig for a 3-pointer to put the Badgers up 62-59.
Coming out of a timeout with 20 second left, I desperately wanted the ball in Koenig’s hands for a chance to win. Hayes had a different idea, schooling his man with a masterful reverse lay-up on the baseline to give Wisconsin a 64-62 lead.
Nigel Hayes nice move along the baseline and scores. pic.twitter.com/qyRpyDlKeN
— ⓂarcusD2.0 (@_MarcusD2_) March 18, 2017
Vitto Brown was huge. Nigel Hayes was gigantic, especially with Happ and Koenig in foul trouble. It was no surprise to see Wisconsin in this game, especially considering how consistent that the Badgers have been in that regard this season. They’ve really only gotten knocked around badly on one, maybe two games this season, and Villanova didn’t present the same type of match-up problem that a team like UNC or Purdue did earlier this year. With the way the bracket is breaking, this team could absolutely find itself back in the Final Four.